mariners

What’s in Your Treasure Chest?

KEYS SUNRISE, PELICANS, TARPONS AT ROBBIES JUNE 8 152  #2_edPirates have long enjoyed the notorious reputation of burying chests laden with treasure. Most of the stories are myth, but today I’m asking you, “What’s in your treasure chest? What kind of booty are you after?”

For some of us, it’s houses, cars, and fancy toys. For others adventure is the very touchstone of their soul. It’s why people travel, scuba dive, and jump out of airplanes.

For others it‘s health. Or a satisfied mind. It’s the reason both the Serenity Prayer of St. Francis and Buddhism have been so popular.

For many of us, family and friends are our greatest treasure. For others, it’s using their talents to make a difference. Van Gogh was hardly recognized in his lifetime, yet his  treasure chest was chock full of good things. Sadly, only Vincent knew it.

Figuratively speaking, we’re all on the High Seas of Life, swinging our cutlasses, gleefully shouting, “Arrrgh!”  Each day we set sail, striving to fill our lives with all the happiness, adventure, and contentment our pirate hearts can hold. Yet everyone’s chest has its own unique mix of  treasure, and not one of us can tell another his chest is all wrong. That’s something everyone has to figure out for himself.

Once in a while, we need to drop anchor and dig through our booty. Lots of good stuff in there! But are you missing anything? A better relationship? A dream you left to wither in a shadowy corner of your soul?

Or perhaps your treasure chest has gotten filled with things that no longer work for you. Things that have become more of a burden than a joy. Maybe it’s time to ask yourself, “How does this serve me now?” Letting go of what we cling to opens our hands to new treasure.

Go ahead. Take a look inside that chest of yours before you drop off to sleep tonight. Do you like what you see? Anything missing? Time to make a few adjustments?

When you make that final voyage on the Sea of Life and the Great Mariner greets you, maybe he’ll be grinning more than you when you open your chest and show him what you’ve got.

The Time Pirate

It was a pretty daunting Tuesday that lay before me. My check-in for my colonoscopy was at 8:00 am. The procedure was at 9:00. With any luck, I’d be sitting in the Applewood House of Pancakes by 11:00, savoring Amy’s Awesome shrimp omelet and a stack of hot pancakes. The preparation leading up to my procedure involved the unavoidable misery the day before. So when my wife pulled into the hospital parking lot at 7:22, It was comforting to know I had time to spare.

Fifteen minutes later, my day began to unwind quicker than the threadbare sails of an aging galleon. “You’re all set,” the receptionist said, as she signed me in. Then there was a long pause as she glanced at the number written next to Tuesday.

“Seventeen.”

“Seventeen what?” I asked.

“The secretary scheduled you for the seventeenth.”

“Yes. Tuesday. It says so right there.”

“She wrote the wrong date,” she replied. “You’re in the computer for tomorrow.”

If there had been anything in my stomach, it certainly would have growled in protest. “Don’t worry. We won’t make you do that preparation again. They’ll have to squeeze you in.”

As I climbed out of the wheel chair and into the waiting car seven hours later, I glanced at my wife. Lunch had proved as elusive as Amy‘s Awesome omelet. But at least my troubles were behind me.

Flashback to a little over four hundred years ago. Sailors hustled on the Cuban dock as a restless breeze rocked the ships that lay at anchor. Noblemen and slaves alike were abuzz as they made final preparations for their trip to Spain. Unimaginable wealth was stored in the ships’ hulls: gold, emeralds, and silver bars. Carefully packed in crates were chalices, plates of silver, and finely crafted jewelry. Then there was the loot the greedy had smuggled aboard to avoid the ship‘s manifest.

Somewhere two hundred miles to the east, a monster with massive arms swirled clouds, wind, and rain wildly in its path. Two days later, the Atocha and twenty-seven other ships in a caravan struggled in mountainous seas. The Atocha and the Margarita were among the unlucky ones, sinking in fifty-five feet of water. As primitive as their forecasting was, the people of the day had warning of what was to come. Yet greed, restlessness, and a yearning to return home overcame their better judgment. Continue reading →

Twenty-five Signs You May Be a Pirate

You May Be a Pirate if…JANUARY ODYSSEY116

  1. … You’ve ever been thrown out of a baseball game because you stole one of the bases and you weren’t even playing.
  1. … After you brush your teeth, you g-Arrgh-le with rum.
  1. … Your friends keep telling you to take a shower.
  1. … All your pets are parrots.
  1. … The Lone Ranger was your hero, but you liked his horse Silver even more.
  1. … You’re the only one in your neighborhood with the Jolly Roger flying from your flagpole.
  1. … You have a bumper sticker on your car that says, “My other car is a pirate ship.”
  1. … You spend all your free time listening to Kenney Chesney or Jimmy Buffett music.
  1. … Instead of a savings account, you bury all your money in the backyard.
  1. … Your only camera is a Cannon.
  1. … While everyone else is shaking their booty to the music, you start jingling the coins in your pocket.
  1. … Your favorite game as a kid was Hide and Sneak.
  1. … Your favorite instrument is the steal guitar.
  1. … You think a baby boomer is a small cannon.
  1. … You’re willing to pay an arm and a leg for a bottle of rum.
  1. … You have a dog named Rover.
  1. … You only watch movies rated Aaarrrrrgh.
  1. … At church you always sing, “Preys the Lord!”
  1. …When you got your ears pierced, you paid a buccaneer.
  1. … You’re a plumber and you keep asking your helper for your wench.
  1. … The only book you’ve ever read was Treasure Island.
  1. … Instead of wearing sunglasses, you wear an eye patch.
  1. … You think Jolly Ranchers are candies made just for pirates.
  1. You can’t understand why the woman in the supermarket slapped you in the face when you complimented her on her broadside.
  1. Your favorite blog is Pirates, Mariners, and the Eternal Sea.

How did you do? Less than five and you’re no pirate at all. Six to ten and you’ll be pillagin’ and plunderin’ in no time with a little more practice. Fifteen correct and you must have a pirate ship waiting to whisk you away. Twenty correct and you deserve the Golden Doubloon Award. Let me dig into my pirate’s chest. I think I have one in here somewhere. Oh, yeah! Here it is…

Ten More Facts You Never Knew about Pirates

JOLLY ROGER 8X10 FINAL What a day

Last time we visited, ye took a little test to see how much ye really knew about us buccaneers. Did ye know enough to escape the gangplank or was ye swimming with the sharks. Think you’ll survive a second broadside from me cannons? Good luck, mates. Ten right answers and ye merit sailing with Blackbeard himself. Three wrong answers and anyone will know yer a landlubber fer sure and no mariner of the high seas.

  1. Piracy in the Caribbean ended when England ruthlessly hunted down pirates like Blackbeard and Captain Kidd. False. On September 05, 1717, the king actually offered a pardon for most pirates if they agreed to stop their nasty ways. Knowing the handwriting was on the wall, 300 pirates In Providence agreed, thus making it easier to hunt down those that remained.
  1. Pirates preferred tall ships with three masts and lots and lots of cannons. False. The overwhelming number of pirate ships weren’t close to the majestic ships portrayed in movies. Many pirates opted for smaller, lighter vessels that could move swiftly when chasing or being chased. Because large ships could not navigate shallow channels needed to dodge and hide, pirates preferred boats with shallow drafts.
  1. Except for a few isolated incidents in history, pirates were not a problem for mariners until the Golden Age of Piracy. False. A century before, Cheng I Sao ruled the South China Seas for years with as many as 300 ships. The Mediterranean Seas were infested with Corsairs for years, attacking ships and villages for booty and slaves. Both St. Patrick and Julius Caesar were kidnapped by pirates. Caesar told his captors he would be back to crucify them. He did just that.
  1. Pirates used the Jolly Roger to create a esprit de corps among themselves. False. Pirates used the Jolly Roger with trickery and intimidation, flying the same flag as a ship they targeted so as not to arouse suspicion. Then when they were on top of their prey, they raised the skull and crossbones, striking terror into the hearts of everyone on board.
  1. The only worthwhile booty for any self respecting pirate was gold or silver. False. While no one ever turned down these treasures, food, water, rum- especially rum, clothing, medicine, and other supplies were all valued.

Continue reading →

A Pirate’s Pirate: Jimmy Buffett Lessons from the Far Side of Paradise

Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all. When Helen Keller spoke those words, it’s not likely she was thinking of pirates, but they fit perfectly the happiest pirate this side of Margaritaville and his parrothead followers.

If there are three trademarks of a pirate, it’s these

1. The willingness to take bold chances.

2. The willingness to steal.

3. The thirst for adventure.

If this is true, then Jimmy Buffett is not only a pirate’s pirate, but he’s had school in session for over forty years, teaching parrothead/pirates the intimate details of how to pull this pirate thing off. Let’s get started by putting a few things up front.

Jimmy’s been shot down in Jamaica, crashed his plane in Long Island, been put down by critics, thrown out of sports arenas, and had his share of illicit taxi rides. Yet each time cannon balls fly his way, he’s found a way to “… jump up and smile back at …” us.

This is exactly what makes Jimmy Buffett a pirate’s pirate. Adversity is no stranger to him. It’s just that he’s learned to make friends with it. It’s hard to know whether Jimmy shines because of his resilience, or whether his resilience comes from his ability to shine. I’m convinced if given an electric guitar and Jimmy Buffett‘s example, Blackbeard would have turned out differently.

Let’s face it. No one would ever accuse Jimmy of being a saint, yet there are few people I know closer to God. When you make so many people happy in a world writhing in pain, it’s one of the most godlike things a human can do. More of us should learn to do that.

As for this whole stealing thing, Jimmy is guilty. For over forty years, he’s stolen our hearts while encouraging us to live our dreams. What‘s more, he’s taught us to steal our lives and our dreams back from those who stole them from us a piece at a time.

Though he seems to preach a hedonistic lifestyle, Jimmy is more of a Buddha than a sensualist. It’s all about the present moment. No matter what you were expecting, it is always now. Breathe in, breathe out. Move on. It’s a terrific lesson. Continue reading →

A Salute to Mariners

We owe an incredible debt to mariners whether they answer the call of the sea for money or adventure. Include in that group commercial fishermen, members of the merchant marines, ferry and tugboat operators, workers on cruise ships, and many more brave men and women who know what the demands of life on board a ship entails.

And make no mistake about it. The men and women who serve in the United States Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines and around the world are a special breed of mariners. Along with the aforementioned, they willingly put themselves in harm’s way for their country not only in war time but in times of crisis when life, limb, and property hang in the balance.

Much has been made of the dangers from pirates these past several years. With more than one sailor losing his life to these ruthless cutthroats, they are a force to be reckoned with. The luckier ones have been held ransom while loved ones a world away wait for years in dread and uncertainty.

But pirates aren’t the only peril mariners face when the last vestiges of land disappear. As stately and rugged as they are, ships today still must face the ferocity of storms at sea. How many men and women lost their lives just in this past year because of storms? Only the other day, a Russian trawler went down within minutes with fifty-four dead and fifteen missing. The death toll would have been far worse if not for nearby sailors risking their lives to save those in the frigid, choppy waters.

Old or poorly maintained ships are yet another hazard many mariners around the world must deal with. Alas, it’s a fact of life that for some companies the bottom line supersedes the lives of those who serve on their ships.

Ask any mariner working on a fishing boat or cargo ship about the dangers they face on any given voyage. It’s not a reflection on the captain or crew. It’s the nature of the job. Equipment doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to. Long hours and weariness take their toll, making it easier for accidents to happen.

Continue reading →